On Wednesday, prosecutors in Munich will begin presenting evidence the first trial in Germany stemming from Volkswagen’s emissions-cheating scandal, in which the company was caught using illegal software to conceal the fact that its “clean diesels” were actually rolling pollution machines.
On trial is Rupert Stadler, the former chief executive of Volkswagen’s Audi luxury car division, who belonged to the top echelon of its leadership.
The case will test whether prosecutors can overcome the difficulties inherent in trying to convict top managers protected by layers of underlings. That is a problem that has also frustrated investigators in the United States when prosecuting corporate crime.
Mr. Stadler faces charges of fraud and false advertising stemming from accusations that Audi continued to sell diesel cars with illegal software even after United States authorities uncovered the cheating in 2015. Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche cars were programmed to meet air-quality standards while being tested, but they spewed copious amounts of diesel fumes in regular driving.